Majority of UAE professionals believe they’re underpaid – but are we, really?

It’s only human to believe we are worth (much) more than what we’re earning, and the feeling of being underpaid can be detrimental to an employee’s performance.

The notion of being underpaid can not only impact one’s wallet, but also lead to a downward spiral of feeling unvalued and unworthy, leading to unhappiness and lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem.

A majority of professionals in the UAE believe they are underpaid, according to the 2013 Mena Salary Survey, conducted by YouGov, a research and consulting organisation, for the jobs website

The findings show that we still believe that the grass is greener on the other side of the pasture. According to the survey, 67 per cent of UAE respondents believe that their current salary is lower than that of other companies in their industry, with only 3 per cent stating a high level of satisfaction with their current remuneration.

On the other hand, eight in 10 believe that the cost of living will continue to increase despite the lacklustre performance on the salary front.

However, it might be a case of ambitions versus reality, as previous surveys have revealed that the average salary hike for professionals in the UAE this year is expected at around 5 per cent, above inflation.

Much on the lines of last year, employees in the Middle East can expect an average 5.4 per cent raise in pay for 2013. Those working in the UAE can see a 5 per cent rise in their personal income this year, according to the latest total remuneration survey conducted by Mercer.

The findings suggest that the pay-rise will be more than the inflation, which means real income for the workforce but does not mark any significant changes in pay-hikes from last year. The hikes have been constant over the past couple of years indicating relative economic stability and mature business environment. Hikes are always welcome news but the double-digit pay hikes for many in the UAE still remain a distant dream.

The new survey by, however, shows that employees are not a happy lot. But whether or not employees in any sector, in any country will ever claim to be ‘happy’ with their current remuneration should be the subject of another survey!

More than half (53 per cent) of UAE respondents state that their cost of living increased by more than 15 per cent in 2012. They believe this is mostly due to increased rents (80 per cent), rising food and beverage costs (69 per cent), and education fees (38 per cent). Eight out of 10 (78 per cent) believe that the cost of living will continue to rise in 2013, the survey shows.

In terms of their current salary, a fifth of UAE respondents (20 per cent) receive their basic salary only, while 65 per cent receive their basic salary plus benefits. A third (33 per cent) state that 51-75 per cent of their salary package is their basic monthly salary.

Additional benefits received from UAE companies include personal medical insurance (50 per cent), personal annual air ticket (46 per cent), and gratuity (33 per cent), the Bayt survey shows.


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